Trans Nzoia County

Discover Trans Nzoia County

View of Mount Elgon National Park from Endebess Bluff.  Photo Courtesy of Trip Advisor
Endebess Bluff at Mount Elgon National Park. Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor

Brief Overview of Trans Nzoia County

Trans Nzoia County is, generally speaking, a flattened country, only undulating gradually en route for Mount Elgon. It is a continuation of Uasin Gishu Plateau [Trans] beyond the Nzoia River [Nzoia]. Interestingly, the county gets drier as one travels towards Mount Elgon due to the rain shadow of this mountain and the Cherangani Hills Reserve; modifying this zone to a ‘livestock-barley’ region.

Trans Nzoia County is best-known as the cornerstone of large scale farming in Kenya. And any trip across the region takes you deep into a picturesque verdant countryside and across some of the most beautiful farmlands you’ll ever set eyes upon in Kenya.  The spectacular panoramic sweeps of vast patchwork of maize, sunflower, tea, and coffee estates, are, without doubt, Nzoia’s doted on heritage.

The primary roads within Trans Nzoia County are fairly good and they traverse through the main towns of Kitale and Endebess and thereafter running north, before finally terminating in Suam River Bridge at the Kenya-Uganda border.  Work has begun on the Kapchorwa-Suam Road which links Uganda to Suam.  The other primary road to Kapenguria and Lodwar is also navigable year round.

Salient Features of Trans Nzoia County

  • County Number 26
  • Area – 2496 km2
  • Altitude – 1800 to 2000 ms
  • Major Towns – Kitale, Endebess, Kiminini
  • Borders – Kakamega, West Pokot, E. Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma

Brief History of Trans Nzoia County

In years gone by, Trans Nzoia County had been inhabited by both the Bukusu and Kalenjin Communities. Settler farmers took up much of the fertile lands. Soon after independence, many of the farms vacated by the white settlers were resettled by individuals from several ethnic groups in Kenya.  Trans Nzoia was one of the main areas of the post-war European settlement.  It was within the region which was transferred from Uganda in 1902, as part of the old Eastern Province.  Trans Nzoia District was under jurisdiction of Uasin Gishu District.

 Making'eny Caves in Mount Elgon N. Park.  Image Courtesy of Safari 254
Making’eny Caves at Mount Elgon N. Park.  Image Courtesy of Safari 254

Places of Interest in Trans Nzoia County

1. Mount Elgon National Park

Mount Elgon National Park (169 km2) lying close to the Kenya-Uganda border comprises all the forests and the mountain area above 2440 metres contour; on the Kenyan side. Mount Elgon, the major geological feature of the park, rises to 4313 metres at its highest area known as Koitoboss Peak. This is Kenya’s second highest mountain.  The forest glades within Mount Elgon National Park contain plenty of wildlife, and elephants in particular, but the park is essentially more revered as a scenic park. It is particularly much-liked as a walking park and the relatively gentle slopes allow for easy expeditions, mostly aiming for the series of caves, some that are famous as elephant caves. There are 4 campsites within Mount Elgon National Park, as well as, Kapturo Cottages run by Kenya Wildlife Service. Chorlim Gate (the main gate) is located 33 kms west from Kitale Town.

Distance between Kitale and Chorlim Gate to Mount Elgon National Park
Distance between Kitale and Chorlim Gate to Mount Elgon National Park

2. Hiking Mount Elgon

The dome-shaped extinct volcano of Mount Elgon can be climbed in three days, round-trip on foot, without much trouble. There is no mountaineering difficulty involved in the ascent of the peak, but the climb is a mountain walk of pleasing beauty and interest, offering great opportunities for surveying the remarkable flora of the mountain. There are two main routes to hike up Mount Elgon: one in Kenya traditionally known as Kitale Route, and the other in Uganda, known as the Mbale Route. On the Kenyan side, the Kitale Route, sometimes known as the Endebess Route, commences at the Chorlim Gate of Mount Elgon National Park. All hiking parties visiting here are required to drop-in at the park’s office. From Chorlim Gate the hike route takes to the well marked “Moorland Track”. In the dry weather, it is possible to reach the end the Moorland Track, at 10,000 ft, by vehicle – preferably using 4X4. From the end of the track, a path ascends to Koitoboss Peak which takes about 5 hours going up and about 3 hours down. There are a few accommodation options conveniently situated near the starting point, to include: Kapturo Cottages and Mount Elgon Lodge. A good watch for weather is important when planning a hiking adventure here. Best times are the dry months between December and February: and to avoid March and October.

3. Wagagai Peak Hike

If the Mbale Route is used to hike Mount Elgon on the western side, in Uganda, hikers take the Soroti Road to Budadiri and the usual launching point. Climbers wishing to use Uganda or the Mbale route should contact Mountain Club of Uganda, for latest information on the condition of the huts, porters and hut booking. From Bumagabula a path leads in 5-6 hours to the Uganda Mountain Club Hut, Sasa Hut. From here it is a further 5-6 hours to Wagagai, the highest summit. The alternative route up Mount Elgon on the Uganda side is through Bukalisi – about 34 kms south of Budadiri. From here it is a poor steep road via the Sasa River Trail to Bumasola, about 6 kms away. This travels over a rough underfoot. It is possible to drive to the southern edge of Bumasola and launch from there. From here the trail goes past “Wall of Death” and “Mudange Cliff” to Sasa River Camp, 5-6 hours away. The next morning the path is followed up the valley to the Mude Cave Camp passing the Jackson Springs and Jackson’s Summit and into a small valley with tarns and amazing pine flora, and Wagagai.

You will need to choose which trail to use to ascend the mountain from the Uganda side. Sasa (cross on the third day) and Sipi (cross on the fourth day) are the two most popular. Sipi has you camp in a giant cave of bats; Sasa has a cool section of staircases up a cliff (they are referred to as “ladders”, but they are definitely stairs). – Medium

4. Kitum Cave

Kitum Cave is one of five remarkable caves at Mount Elgon National Park. The other four splendid caves within the park are; Making’eny, Ngwarisha, Kiptoro and Chepnyalil. Also known as ‘Elephant Cave’, the popular Kitum Cave, which is the most visited section within Mount Elgon National Park, extends for 165 metres into the side of Mount Elgon, and its walls, which are rich in salts, have enticed animals such as elephants for centuries – which venture into the cave in search of salt.  It is also thought that Kitum was at some point used as a refuge by the local Sabaot Tribe. In the 1987 study conducted on the caves of Mount Elgon, researchers led by Redmond concluded that at the least Kitum Cave was largely formed by elephants excavating its walls for salt. Even so, an opposing school of thought suggests that the role of the elephants in the genesis of Kitum is only secondary modification. One of the most interesting highlights of Kitum Cave are the very many fossil remnants it contains. These include trees, up to a metre in diameter, trunks with intact root, twig piles, and occasional mammal bones. The more distal parts of the quasi-circular cave, obstructed by collapsed slabs, are fully dark and climatically isolated and host large populations of bats. The most recent collapse in Kitum’s main chamber and antechamber is known to have occured in 1982, when a large section fell, killing at least one elephant. Exploration of this area, beyond the collapsed blocks, is less accessible. Trippers to Mount Elgon National Park can choose to drive, walk or ride to Kitum from the main Chorlim Gate. An exploration of the Kitum Cave should be planned in good weather – that is not in April, May, August and October. Obvious perhaps, but apt to be overlooked, is to carry a working flashlight and wear sturdy shoes.

Map of Mount Elgon National Park.  Courtesy of Mama Savanna Safaris
Map of Mount Elgon National Park. Courtesy of Mama Savanna Safaris

5. Macking’eny Cave

Easily recognized by the spectacular waterfall over its cave mouth, Macking’eny Cave situated 1.5 kms north of Kitum Cave is equally beholding and scenically pleasant. A visit to Mount Elgon National Park should not omit exploring this site.  Although the Macking’eny Cave is open year-round, it too requires a good watch for weather, sturdy shoes and a flashlight to scout its deeps.  Along the path which leads from Kitum to Making’eny there is plenty of wildlife and birds to be seen.  An estimated 400 elephants live in Mount Elgon Biosphere as well as buffalo, leopard, colobus and blue monkey’s, hogs, waterbucks and varieties of antelopes. There are over 240 varieties of birds present including cinnamon-chested bee-eater, hartlaubs, turaco and red headed parrot.  From Macking’eny Cave, it is highly recommended for trippers to head further up the road to the Endebess Bluff, which is a treasured viewing ledge that offers memorable views.

View from Endebess Bluff in Mount Elgon National Park. Published by Eaffeldt

6. Ngwarisha Cave

Midway between Endebess Bluff and Chepanyalil Cave lies the Ngwarisha Cave. At about 150 ms deep it’s the third largest cave after Macking’eny (250 ms) and Kitum (165 ms). All fives caves on the eastern flanks of Mount Elgon (an early Miocene stratovolcano) are of debatable origin. Here too, the cave loft is that of sodium-rich salts, dense cap rock, over which a waterfalls temporarily forms in the rainy season, and soft swelling clay-tuff. Geogaphy by elephants and other species and human mining have significantly modified and enlarged this cave; as well as the other caves at Mount Elgon National Park. The “elephant caves” of Mount Elgon burst into the limelight in the late 19th Century (1885) when geologist Joseph J. Thomson first described them to the world; although they were well-known to the native people for centuries before that. Ever since, they have been a source of controversy to scientists. Thomson himself was unable to decide if the caves were of natural or human origin. In 1918, Hobley developed a theory of natural cave origin involving a postulated lake, but Oswald (1918) dismissed this theory, preferring instead an origin by percolation dissolution. In 1958, Oswald’s theory was taken up by Ollier and Harrop who gave additional observation supporting percolation dissolution, and in 1961 a phreatic half-tube origin was reported by Wrightt. Nevertheless, the matter has never been settled.

7. Chepnyalil Cave

The five cave at Mount Elgon National Parks are spatially distributed in a linear progression with Kitum in the south and Chepnyalil as the northernmost. Four of these caves are at roughly the same elevation, 2400 ms, and Ngwarisha Cave is 100 ms higher. Chepnyalil Cave is veiled about in overgrown wait-a-bit bushy thickets but is accessible year round. It is reached by way of the parkroad about 500 ms north of the little-travelled Kiptoro Cave – a 10 ms deep cave which is essentially an extended rock shelter. Chepnyalil is small, wide cave ( 26 ms deep and 54 ms wide). It is associated with surface water streams and thought to be originated behind a historical waterfall. Having said that, there is no evidence of chanelled water flow inside this or the other four caves at Mount Elgon, even after heavy rain. The caves are surprisingly dry inside. The ceiling of this cave is too high for elephants to access thus tusking and animal activity is restricted to the entrance of the cave. Ngwarisha, Kiptoro and Chepnyalil have some of the best evidence of human activities. Anthropologists estimate that Chepnyalil in particular was occupied +90 years ago, and the walls and roof show lots of soot.

8. KWS Bandas

Kenya Wildlife Service owns and maintains about two dozen budget-friendly cottages and bandas across Kenya’s National Game Parks and, oftentimes, the locations of these bandas are top-drawer.  In Trans Nzoia County KWS operates Koitoboss Guest House and Kapkuro Cottage, both located at the footslopes of the wondrous Mount Elgon. KWS Bandas are the perfect launching-point for exploits centered around Mount Elgon National Park.  The reasonably priced KWS Bandas can be accessed through Chorlim Gate, just 33 kms west of Kitale.

9. Mount Elgon Lodge

Also known Chorlim Wildlife Lodge, this stack and rounded brick holding with a distinctive white washed exterior and its signatures lawns and gardens was, at conception, the residence for Buster J. Powles (a settler farmer between 1928 to 1961) before it was refurbished into a 10-rooms guest house.  Set near Chorlim Gate to Mount Elgon National Park, this lodge is a great base for mountaineers aspiring to ascend the Koitoboss Peak. Aside from its antiquated Victorian style architecture, Mount Elgon Lodge is a welcome thrill for history buffs interested in understanding the colonial history in Kenya. It is located 30 kms from Kitale.

10. Suam Gorge

Suam Gorge is a short, narrow, steep-sided section of a stream valley marking the boundary between Kenya and Uganda and within Mount Elgon Ecosystem. The 10 kms wide Suam Gorge is enclosed on either side by steep crags formed from centuries of erosion. The starting-point to Suam Gorge is about 5 kms from Mount Elgon Lodge. Commencing near Suam, just over the boundary with Uganda, the trail follows the Suam River through a steep and spectacular back-country and past hot-spring on the eastern side of the caldera. The Suam route is a rarely used route that is on average a 5 day trek staring at a higher elevation than Sasa Route. It spurs through Suam Gorge along the Kenya-Uganda border.

11. Kamariny Cave

Surprisingly untravelled, Kamariny Cave found just 7 kms from Endebess Town has historically been an important cultural shrine for subsequent generations of local communities in Trans Nzoia County.  Kamariny Cave, made up of various compartments, also has a lengthy history as a refuge for wildlife, and some of its sections still hold remains of atavistic bones whose origins are largely disputed.  Some say that these bones trapped inside are an indication that the cave might have collapsed. Kamariny Cave offers a thrilling weekend adventure and can be scouted in an hours walking adventure.  There is also a modest falls found near the cliff of the cave and a natural dam located deep within Kamariny Cave. It is also referred to locally as the Kapsetany Community Cave, or as Endebess Cave.

Spatial Location of Endebess in Trans Nzoia County
Spatial Location of Endebess in Trans Nzoia County

12. Endebess-Kitale Plains

Agriculture is the foremost economic enterprise in Trans Nzoia and with a fairly flat terrain it has dedicated large acreage under large-scale farming. The beauty of this region is defined by the variegated farming lands, which are transformed with every passing season. Trans Nzoia County is home to scores of the biggest farmlands in Western Kenya found mostly around the Endebess-Kitale Plains. Most of these farms belong to the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) and the main crops include maize, coffee, pyrethrum, tea, beans and sunflower.

13. Kitale War Memorial

The Kitale War Cemetery is situated on the western outskirts of the town along Kitale-Endebess-Suam Road, and is somewhat difficult to find. If coming from Eldoret follow the road through town past the railway station, then turn off left to take the rough road that runs parallel to the main road (used as a market) as far as the north-western quarter of town. At the very end of this rough road turn left at the direction sign and follow the very rough track about 2 kms to the war cemetery. As one of the salient townships in the northern part of Kenya, Kitale was an epicentre for many colonial operations. During the 1939-1945 War there were several small military units near Kitale, and also a military hospital. The cemetery contains the graves of 60 East African soldiers who died during the 1939-’45 War. The cemetery is open Monday-Friday, between 06:00 and 18:00.

14. Kitale Museum

Kitale, the largest town in Trans Nzoia and its capital, sits roughly at the center of the county and it is not only a useful logistic but also a cultural and business hub. Kitale stands at the centre of a system of main roads, and with great roads radiating out of it to other major towns, it connects the Counties of Kakamega, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and Bungoma. Kitale dominates the area, being one of the seven larger towns of Kenya. It is basically a market town from which the agricultural and dairy produce are distributed. Its impetus for growth were the fertile plains in the western half of the area and the arrival of the Kitale branch of the Kenya-Uganda Railway. As a result of its good location, fertile soils and favourable climate, Kitale attracted many settler farmers and Asian traders. First opened to the public in 1924 as Stoneham Museum, Kitale Museum became the first regional museum in Kenya.  It found its name from the famous naturalist Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Stoneham who first operated it as his private collection of insects, animals and books.  In 1974, Stoneham was reestablished as the Museum of Western Kenya. Consequently, it was revamped with a motley collection of ethnographic material relating to communities living in Trans Nzoia and renamed as the Kitale Museum.  It’s found 1 km from Kitale.

Spatial Location of Kitale Museum in Kitale Town
Spatial Location of Kitale Museum in Kitale Town

15. Kitale Golf Club

Founded in 1924 as an 18-holf golf course, that measures 6,990 yards with a par 73, it is one of the foremost courses of the 36 golf clubs in Kenya. Aside from its surpassing greens and beautiful surrounding landscape, Kitale Golf Club is also well-known for the variety of monkeys that marshal its fairways. It plays host to numerous top-rate tournaments like the Chairman’s Putter, Kenya Seed Classic Tournament and Kitale Tournament. It is located along B2 Kitale-Eldoret Road.

16. Treasures of Africa Museum

The privately-run Treasures of Africa Museum displays the personal collection of John Galletly Wilson, the former colonial officer from Uganda who loved and spend many years studying the divergent tribes of Western Kenya and Uganda, and particularly the Karamajong and the Turkana tribes.  Among the highlights at Treasures of Africa Museum are its invaluable collection of tribal art, photos, artefacts, mementos, and illustrations – all that depict a rarely seen world and poignant long-lost cultural practices – which Wilson collected over a period of 31 years of exploring across Africa. It’s situated 2 kms south of Kitale Golf Club. 

17. Kitale Nature Conservancy

Especially cherished for its unique conservation and nurturing of animals with deformities and its education program focused on conserving the environment, Kitale Nature Conservancy (also known as Ndura Park) is conveniently located near Kitale Town and makes for a quick drop-in. It was begun as a community recreation area. Some of the highlights at the Kitale Nature Conservancy are its botanical gardens, its interesting mountain of curses, its animal orphanage, its snake park, the camping site, its walking trails, and its “holy mountain” which is commonly the base for educating students on conservation.  In addition, Kitale Nature Conservancy has about 32 homey African inspired cottages which offer reasonable accommodation. It’s found 5 kms northeast of Kitale along A1 Road.

18. Sirwo Resort

This is located 12 kms east of Kitale along C48 Kitale-Maili Nane-Cherangani Road near Sibanga Trading Centre. It can also be reached by heading out on the A1 Kitale-Kapenguria Road north-easterly heading until Chematich and then turning south to Sibanga. Now a household name for residents of Kitale and its environs and for business and casual travellers, the middle-budget Sirwo Resort is set at the heart of the pretty farmlands of Trans Nzoia. It is a reinvigorating destination that’s understated and ofetn sold short. With splendid views backed by rolling farmlands, hillocks and bristling forest, Sirwa Resort is a noteworthy weekend getaway.  This peaceful and intoxicating resort abuts with the “sister establishment” at Cranes Haven Hotel where visitors can enjoy various leisure facilities including its pool, gardens and gym.  Sirwo Resort is also within easy reach of Saiwa Swamp National Park, Cherangani Hills, and Mount Elgon Park.

19. Saiwa Swamp National Park

Established in 1974, the small 3 km2 Saiwa Swamp National Park is indubitably Kenya’s smallest National Park, created principally to protect the Sitatunga; a rare aquatic antelope. Saiwa Park encompasses a swamp which contains some of the last remaining rare Sitatunga in Kenya. “Seats have been fixed up in trees surrounding the swamp so that visitors can sit and observe these long-hooved, aquatic bushbuck”. The swamp itself, fed by the Saiwa River, features a lovely blend of forest that can be explored by means of a raised wooden boardwalk. KWS operates Saiwa Swamp picnic site, Sitatunga campsite, and the Tree Top Hut (a self-catering tree house). There is also the privately-run Sirikwa Tented Camp which is located just 6 kms from the turnoff into the park. Saiwa Swamp National Park is worth visiting on any trip that plans to take in Mount Elgon National Park. It lies 24 kms northeast of Kitale via A1 Kitale-Kapenguria Road.

Distance from Kitale to Saiwa Swamp National Park in Trans Nzoia County
Distance from Kitale to Saiwa Swamp National Park in Trans Nzoia County

20. Kapolet Fishing Camp

The settlement of Kapolet is found east of Saiwa Swamp National Park, north of Sibanga Shopping Centre and immediately south of Kapcherop Forest, and can be reached using either A1 Kitale-Kapenguria Road or C48 Kitale-Cherangani Road. Found along the Kapolet River, the time-honoured Kapolet Fishing Camp with eye-catching montane vistas of the magnificent Cherangani Hills offers an inexpensive base for the avid fisherman and for nature-lovers to spend a day in the salubrious countryside. Set well off-the-beaten-track, Kapolet is famed for its trout fishing and is within reach of Rivers Muruny and Chepkaitik which are also prime waters where the Barbel Rainbow trout, Tiger and Nile Perch were a common-catch in the 1980s. Kapolet Fishing Camp is managed by the Kapolet Fishing Association. The Kapolet Fishing Camp is located 32 kms east of Kitale.

21. Cherangani Hills

Covering 1,141 km2 and traversing four counties, the spectacle Cherangani Hills Biosphere is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Kenya and the floral-jewel of Western Kenya. In Trans Nzoia County, Cheranganis’ are represented by 40 km2 Kapcherop Forest lying between Kapenguria (northwest) and Kapcherop Centre (southeast).  Kiptaberr Hill located near Kapcherop Centre and close to the Kenya Forest Service station is one of the great launches of the Cherangani Hills Ecosystem. The hill is a spectacular single giant rock (and stopover point for migrant birds) that is a fetching watchtower for nature lovers and birdies alike. All along its north-south march from Elgeyo Marakwet County deep into West Pokot County, the enamor of the iconic Cherangani Hills is marked by precipitous hillocks with heavily gullied forested tops which in some sections become sheer cliff walls. It gathers-up the western wall of the Great Rift Valley from where the Elgeyo Escarpment terminates it and extends this northerly to Uganda. Its abounding forests contribute significantly to the nations economy as an invaluable water catchment, and the headwaters for Rivers Nzoia, Weiwei, Muruny, Turkwel, Kerio and Kapolet.  It is comprised of thirteen large forests: Kapcherop, Kapolet, Chemurkkoi, Cheboyit, Embobut, Kaisungor, Kipkunur, Kiptaberr, Kapkanyar, Sogotio, Toropket, Kerer and Lelan. Cherangani Hills offer a heart-warming roadside attraction along the A1 Kitale-Kapenguria Road.

Spatial distribution of the Cherangani Hills Forest Ecosystem
Spatial distribution of the Cherangani Hills Forest Ecosystem

22. Barnleys Guest House

This is located 25 kms northeast of Kitale along the A1 Kitale-Kapenguria Road about 2 kms outside the boundary with West Pokot County. The cozy and rustic Barnleys Guest House set on a 5-acres of forested property with a profusion of variegated flowering plants is both a place to escape and take one’s ease, as well as, a jumping-off place to seek new adventures.  It is run and managed by the Barnleys family who have lived in Kenya for the last 78 years. The main house, a refurbished colonial-style country house, is inviting and timeless. The mature gardens and ancient trees complement it well.  There is also an old farmhouse with two double guest rooms and additional detached furnished tents.  Aside from taking in the beauty of the lovingly-cared for gardens around Barnley’s Guest House guests can enjoy walks around the farm or explore nearby places of interest including Cherangani Hills Reserve and Saiwa Swamp National Park.

Tim Barnley began Sirikwa Safaris with a love of birds and his dream to make Western Kenya a sought after birding treasure for the sighting of 350 species of birds. The culture of old Africa exists still in the nature and land of this area. Listening to the stories of the lives of Jane and Richard brings one close to the history of this remarkable place.

23. Kaisagat Viewpoint

The short 40 kms excursion from Kitale to Kapenguria commences with a pass across the emblematic corn field of Kitale before it takes to the only steep climb along this stretch close to Makutano-Kapenguria Junction. Generally speaking, the gradient through West Pokot is a slope, where one loses 4,600 ft in altitude from Kitale to Lodwar. Just 9 kms before Makutano, there’s a unique attraction, nearby the Sokomoko Centre. Kaisagat Viewpoint widely staring-on the craggy escarpment, with Muruny River snaking its course, offers a fine roadside vista to appreciate the fine landscapes and ecological gamut of the county. For here, the belt of semi-arid county stretches north-east to meet the scenically-splendid hillocks seen in the background. Kaisagat, although little-known, may be on the breathtaking panoramic vistas seen around the southwest region of West Pokot.

View inside the Kitum Cave in Mount Elgon National Park.  Photo Courtesy of Explore 254
Kitum Cave in Mount Elgon National Park.  Image Courtesy of Explore 254

Geography of Trans Nzoia County

Trans Nzoia County can be divided into three major agro-ecological zones: Upper Highland Zone, Upper Midland Zone and Lower Highland Zone.  The Upper Highland Zone covers the hills and slopes of Mount Elgon, Cherangani Hills and the border zone towards West Pokot County. This zone lies between altitudes of 2,400 ms and 4,313 ms above sea level and constitutes about 16 percent of the county’s land area. The area is covered with woody vegetation, shallow stony soils and rocky outcrops. Mount Elgon National Park, situated in this zone, is a major tourist attraction.  The Lower Highland Zone covers the slopes of Mount Elgon and Cherangani Hills, between the altitudes of 1800 ms and 2400 ms above sea level. The Upper Midland Zone, which covers 1248 km2, comprises about 50 percent of Trans Nzoia County. This zone lies between altitudes 1700 and 2400 ms. The region includes Endebess Plains stretching west of Kitale Plains and northerly to the area below the slopes of Cheranganis.

Land Use in Trans Nzoia County

Trans Nzoia Country’s land tenure system has evolved overtime. At the time of independence, the whole of Trans Nzoia County was “Crown Land” reserved for the white farmers. After independence, the ownership was transferred to the Government of Kenya.  The main crops produced in the Trans Nzoia County are maize, beans, wheat, tea and potatoes. Other crops include coffee and a variety of horticultural crops.  The total acreage under food crops is 1438 km2, while that under cash crops is 1471 km2. Much of the land is under cash crop farming.

Highlights in Trans Nzoia County

The main touring sites in Trans Nzoia County are Mount Elgon National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Kitale Museum and Kitale Nature Conservancy. It has plenty of wildlife to include elephants around Mount Elgon Forest arc and Columbus monkeys, variety of birds, buffaloes, hippos, bushbucks, and snakes.

Population in Trans Nzoia County

Trans Nzaoia County had population density of 328 persons / km2 in 2009 that rose to 367 people / km2 in 2013. This was expected to rise to 441 people / km2 by 2017. The 2009 Population and Housing Census recorded a total of 818,757 persons in the county. Of these 407,172 were male and 411,585 female. Inter-censal growth rate was 3.7% between 1999 and 2009, higher than the national average of 3.0%. It has two main towns (Kitale and Kiminini) whose population was projected as 136,644 in 2013, and expected to increase to 158,440 by 2017.

View of Cherangani Hills, from near Kitale Town.  Photo Courtesy
View of Cherangani Hills from near Kitale Town.  Image Courtesy WikiMedia

Airports in Trans Nzoia County

Trans Nzoia has only one airstrip but Eldoret Airport is within its proximity.

Roads in Trans Nzoia County

Trans Nzoia County has a total road network of about 4,069 kms, comprised of 154 kms of bitumen roads, 167 kms of gravel, and 786 kms of earth roads and 2953 kms of rural access roads. Most of these roads are in poor condition and impassable during rain season. The main road is A1, Kitale to Kapenguria Road.

Climate in Trans Nzoia County

Trans Nzoia County has a highland equatorial type of climate. The rainfall is well distributed throughout the year.  The slopes of Mount Elgon to the west receive the highest amount of rainfall while the region bordering West Pokot County receives the least. It experiences bi-modal rainfall pattern – long rains occurring from April to June, and short rains fall from July to October. Trans Nzoia County also lies within the Lake Victoria basin and rain falls more or less continuously from April to the end of the year in local heavy showers. Many such showers originate over the forest below Kaibubich and proceed from there in a southwest strike to Kitale, which accounts for higher rainfall along this line.

Trans Nzoia County Distance Chart
Trans Nzoia County Distance Chart

View of the Kiotoboss Peak in Mount Elgon National Park. Photo Courtesy of KWS
Kiotoboss Peak in Mount Elgon National Park. Image Courtesy of KWS

National Monuments in Trans Nzoia County

There are no designated national monuments in Trans Nzoia County.

Trans Nzoia County

Trans Nzoia County Map